Down to Harpenden for a couple of days, to see my Mum and Dad and have a day out in London.
We drove down on Sunday afternoon and the weather was bright and breezy. All of the road works that were the bane of my life when I was commuting to Birmingham on a regular basis have been finished, leaving a four lane automotive horizon like something out of one of Jeremy Clarkson's daydreams. Lovely, and the whole trip only took a tad over two hours.
Monday morning and we took advantage of a family train ticket deal for me, Jan, my Mum and Jamie which actually worked out cheaper for four of us than the standard fare for one. Train prices never fail to be a mystery to me. Once in the metropolis we split up, with Jan hitting the shops and the rest of us heading to the Science museum for a mooch around the latest exhibits.
I could happily spend days poking around the various galleries, but I was happy to revisit a few old favourites including Babbage's Difference Engine and the Pegasus computer, as well as a new exhibition with a history of British Hi-Tech in the 1950s along a Dan Dare theme. We had some very nice sandwiches for lunch, although the museum obviously makes its profits on the catering nowadays.
Once we were museumed out, Jamie and my mum headed for home and I met up with Jan for a reviving pint of Landlord in an unusual little pub called The Blue Posts. It was not so much the decor, which is traditional wooden floors and brick walls, but the staff and clientele which made for an interesting exercise in people watching. One of the bar staff was a Chinese man with a beard, facial piercings and a highly impressive red mohican, and the other looked as if he had stepped from the pages of a Victorian Penny Dreadful, being a cross between Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York with slicked back hair and waxed mustache, and the Illustrated Man with tattoos peeking out from under his shirt collar. We grabbed a bite to eat in a nearby Italian restaurant and then went to find the Leicester Square theatre, cunningly concealed in a side street not far from Chinatown.
The main purpose of our visit was to see a recording of 'As It Occurs To Me' and it really it was superb. The first half was Richard Herring chatting to various members of audience mixed with bits and pieces of stand-up. He really does seem to be achieving his goal of being able to wander on stage and talk about anything that springs to mind. He even managed to cope with the slightly awkward situation of there being a thirteen old boy sat on the front row, and gently took the mickey out of him when he found out it was his birthday the next day.
After a brief interval for a visit to the loo and a quick drink at the bar, the rest of the cast came on for the main recording. This week's show featured quite a lot of Dan Tetsell playing Tiny Andrew Collins and it was hysterically funny to see him interviewing himself and dropping various sarcastic asides to the main script. Given that the whole show is still being written moments before recording and is recorded in one unedited take, it is remarkably professional. I'm probably preaching to the converted here, but it really is worth a listen and ten pounds to see it live is a conspicuous bargain (particularly for the scandalous gossip about Steve Coogan in the first, unbroadcast, bit of the show).
After the show, we stuck around for a while and chatted to Emma Kennedy who remembered us from when we met her previously and was pleased to see us there, and also said a quick hello to Richard and Christian at the bar to tell them how much we had enjoyed the show (Steve).
Top night out!